The Student Media Site of William Clarke College

We Are

The Student Media Site of William Clarke College

We Are

The Student Media Site of William Clarke College

We Are

HICES Music Festival

Bethany K (Year 9)

From the afternoon of Sunday 13th to Wednesday evening of the 16th, 350 NSW high school students from 31 schools came together to celebrate the art of music at the HICES Music Festival camp.

Unlike your typical HICES event, this was not a competition but a celebration and collaboration of the art that has existed since ancient times, music. With a range of ensembles such as the Concert Band, Symphonic Wind Ensemble, Chorale and Symphony Orchestra, multiple students from our school were not only able to share their knowledge and previous experiences of ensemble music with new friends and band members but were also challenged and grown into better musicians. I know my musical skills have been enriched on this unique camp, while also taking away memorable tokens of knowledge and fun such as “Subdivide or die” and “DS (U) al Coda” or in other words ‘count’ and ‘don’t stuff up at the coda’.

Sunday afternoon: hundreds of students piled onto buses and into cars and made their way to Stanwell Tops Conference Centre, where they were greeted by our camp coordinators, who promptly introduced the classic golden rule of camp “Do Good”, while also receiving each students matching, and highly comfortable HICES Music Festival hoodie.

Monday and Tuesday went by with hours of precious rehearsal time in ensembles, camp activities such as go-karting and the giant swing, among other notable events such as finale rehearsals with our guest choral conductor Dr Michael Bradshaw, just dance competitions, student concerts, and an ensemble preview concert.

The student concert on Monday evening was a precious time when students from any school could present a musical item to share with the rest of the camp. I was highly entertained by a few including a violin/saxophone duet of Rush E, and a proud year 7 student singing a Freddie Mercury song “Seven Seas of Rye” to close the concert, putting a smile on everyone’s face with his passion and joy for music.

On Wednesday, after transporting all the hundreds of students to the Sydney Town Hall, students were involved in a range of workshops and activities, around sound checks. My personal favourite was the World Music Academy workshop where we explored the music of different cultures, and different cultural instruments such as an Arabic flute, and were pleasantly challenged with learning a song by ear, used typically in films to represent an Arabian culture. The melody, only making use of a few key notes, was simple, yet enough of a brainteaser to figure out, that when you did crack the code, you were rewarded with a sense of success and pride in your musical ear. This skill of playing by ear was something I had never considered or experienced before, but was one of my key takeaways from the camp, as the melody and notes have stuck with me, unlike simply reading off a page.

Then there was the concert. If anyone was paying attention to sports last week, you would likely remember the FIFA Women’s World Cup Semi-final between Australia and England. This game just so happened to be running at the same time as the concert in the Sydney Town Hall. I will never forget the moment when England scored the first goal, as we all were lined up backstage before the finale item, hovering over any phone held horizontally, a key indicator that they were watching the game. “Nooooo” was the collective reaction, followed by “Sssshhhh”. William Clarke’s own Mr Morrison, acutely aware of the situation, promptly reminded us as we walked up the steps onto the stage, to “Focus on the singing”.

The finale item was a year 12 student’s arrangement of Nina Simone’s “I wish I knew how it would feel to be free”, a reflection on the American Civil Rights movement, now adapted to express the freedom and joy brought by music, to a collective group of ‘music nerds’.

Because that’s what we were, a collective group of music nerds, realizing there were others like us and finding a place to belong and to express our individual perceptions of the art of music. To be entirely cliché, the most valuable aspect of this camp was ‘the friends we made along the way’. But it’s true. Yes, at first it can be nerve-racking, but you at last know you have one thing in common, your love of music, and quickly you can meet new people and make lasting friendships with people from other schools. You can learn about how other schools operate, what their music programs look like, and what their music journey has involved. It was entirely shocking when I realized I met one of my WCC friend’s cousins on this camp; how small the world truly is, despite it feeling big.

So yes, HICES is an experience I shall never forget, because of the musical knowledge I gained, the comfy hoodie now made a prized option in my wardrobe, the memories, and most importantly life-long friendships I have created.

I hope this article has inspired any musicians of our college community to consider this camp in the future years of their high school experience, whether you’re interested in a comfy hoodie, a chance to miss normal class or to develop your musicianship, HICES Music Festival is a memorable and valuable opportunity that should never be overlooked.

I look forward to seeing William Clarke’s involvement in this amazing festival in the future, taking advantage of the range of new opportunities such as the World Music Academy, Jazz Academy, as well as the more conventional ensembles I mentioned earlier.

Leave a Comment
More to Discover
About the Contributor
Bethany K (Year 9)
Bethany K (Year 9), Illustrator

Comments (0)

All Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *